High above small welsh village Beddgelert in the heart of Snowdonia, Moel Hebog stands tall and bulky. As it’s in such close proximity to Snowdon – the mountain everybody comes to Snowdonia to climb – I can’t help but feel that it gets overlooked. Standing at 783m it’s not as high as they go but it has so much character that it’s always worth a walk.
You might have already seen my blog post on why you shouldn’t climb Snowdon on your next visit to Snowdonia but if you haven’t (go check it out) then I need to sit you down for a few minutes and tell you all about how many other awesome mountains there are to explore in this popular corner of Wales. Moel Hebog is without a shadow of a doubt, one of those mountains.
The last time I walked this mountain (I think this particular time was my third) was back at the start of April (hence all the snow, guys – sorry this is a summer post!). Like in my Glyders blog post, the weather had not been playing ball. The days leading up to our Wales trip were snowy, leaving a thick layer over the mountains, which wasn’t ideal walking for most of the group. Yet, in came the rain and washed it all (mostly) away – cue happy Hannah!
But into the walk…
We pulled into the main car park in Beddgelert with grey skies above us. There was a nip to the air and we were in two minds as to whether to even go for it.
Trusting my gut – which I think is always a good idea – I decided that I felt comfortable in these conditions. I’d certainly been in positions where I had felt doing a walk was a bad idea and this wasn’t one of those times – so on we went. The path is a little tricky to find initially, heading up through a small housing estate from the hotel but you’re soon walking along the railway line, up a small road and turning right onto the mountain path.
On the main path you take a path to the left before coming onto the mountain true and proper. If you look up you’ll be climbing the big long shoulder to your left of the cliff face. Although it can look like a little bit of a daunting climb from below, it’s pretty easy and really fun for it’s not too technical but enough that it keeps your mind distracted from the uphill climb.
Note – If you’re really not good with heights this may not be a good one for you.
Follow the path up the ridge and, although it’s a bit of a haul to start, it soon gets a bit more interesting with a little bit of grade 1 scrambling. You will need to have hands on rock at points throughout this but there are plenty of secure hand and foot holds to guide you up.
Tip – If you’re doing this walk in conditions like we were, take multiple pairs of gloves!
The path becomes slightly less distinct the higher you go through the rocks so keep your eye out (and ideally have you map and compass to track where you’re going). The views behind you are enough to make the sweat up the hill totally worth it so – whatever you do – remember to stop and look around. Look around a lot! It’s stunning. From the Nantlle ridge on one side to Snowdon and Moel Siabod in the middle and the Moelwyns on the other side, you could stop and look all day. In most of the photos here you can see the Snowdon horseshoe in the background.
There’s a false summit involved here so don’t get your hopes up too much when you top-out and see the cairn. But know that the actual summit is so close – just up one more little hill.
When you get there, you’ll find a wide grassy summit – the kind of place you could chill out all day really. You should be able to see the sea (you owe me an ice cream) from here, too.
The way down is slightly torturous – for me at least – and if you have walking poles now is a really good time to get them out. The descent is one relentless grassy slope all the way down to the col, Bwlch Merillionen, between Moel Hebog and Moel yr Ogof. It’s intense on the knees so it’s one to take your time on!
Rather than head on to Moel yr Ogof and Moel Lefn, we turned back towards Beddgelert. Turning right at the wall in Bwlch Merillionen we followed it all the way down to a stile in the fence, which took us into Beddgelert Forest.
Although the path is pretty simple, do just watch where you are as if you do become lost, there are no reference points to help you! Fortunately, the path is pretty straightforward and just goes straight down crossing forestry track. The cut through between each track are usually boggy so here’s where gaiters would be ideal.
The path soon brings you back to the open mountainside and you pass where you initially turned off the main path to start the climb. So from this point it’s reversing your tracks back down into Beddgelert.
As always, do not take this blog as instruction of how to do the walk – there are plenty of route guides around for that – but I hope it gave you a flavour of the walk. It’s truly one of my favourites!
If you’d like to see it on a slightly sunnier day watch this video from when I did it on a YHA trip (for more adventures from the doors of a YHA head to the menu ‘My Work’ for more).
Because there are just so many photos of her…